Tuesday, August 22, 2017

the final lecture – transforming leadership in Vanuatu

The final lecture of my week of teaching at Talua College, was titled Transforming leadership in Vanuatu and I designed the intensive carefully to build toward this final lecture. The aim was to encourage local agency and group application of the lecture material to local context

Talua Memorial lecture

Talua Memorial lecture

On the first day, I had provided two case studies.

Either: You are chairing a leadership meeting. During a discussion of the church budget, two long time members of the church engage in a protracted and tense public exchange. How can you provide effective leadership in this situation (both immediate and during the next week or month)?

Or: You hear news that an overseas company wants to set up a fish factory on an important beach that is part of your village. You are preaching in church the next Sunday. How can you and the church provide effective leadership in this challenge?

Work in a group. Select one of Paul’s images of leadership in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4. Discuss with your group how this one image of leadership might guide your response to the challenge. Be prepared to share with the entire class 2 things you would do and thing you would not do.

I noted that on the final day, I would invite groups to present in relation to the case studies. I had workshopped the case studies with Paula Levy, who had recently served with her husband Roger at Talua.

I was delighted that on the last day, twelve groups presented. 7 chose the first case study, on handling conflict. 3 chose the second case study, on the arrival of a foreign fish factory. 2 groups worked on a 3rd assignment, a case study that had come up in class. This involved forgiveness and the question of whether saying sorry on behalf of someone else would allow genuine reconciliation. It was encouraging to see this level of improvisation occurring over the week and a sense of grounded integration.

Each group was able to clearly work between Biblical text and local context, and offer clear and practical next steps in leadership. 5 groups worked on leader as servant, 1 group leader as gardener, 2 groups leader as builder, 1 group leader as resource manager and 2 groups leader as fool – (With 1 group, my Bislama was not good enough to work out which Pauline image they were using).

11 of the groups presented in Bislama, 1 in English. The staff at Talua gave verbal feedback on each of the group presentations. This was verbal, and involved providing affirmations and suggesting improvements. This ensued some rigour and accountability in the learning process.

So in Bislama, this was nambawan (the best) lecture. It was a class essentially taught entirely by the Ni-Van students, as they grounded the material in their context.

Posted by steve at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Transforming leadership and ecclesial identities

I’ve just spent 7 days on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, at the invitation of Talua, a Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu theological college. I was asked to speak on transforming leadership over 20 hours and as I prepared, I found myself trying to think missiologically about leadership: ie the movement from a sending God; through discipleship; to leadership – using the biblical images in my Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration book. Given my 6 years serving with the Uniting Church of Australia, who are also, like the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, a partner church of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, I also found myself thinking about transformation and leadership in light of the Basis of Union. Here is some of what I wrote as a sort of course description for myself:

__________

Melanesian garden, Novata farm

Melanesian garden, Novata farm

Transforming leadership and ecclesial identities

Transforming leadership is located in missiology, in the sending God at work in the world (Luke 10:1-12). Our understandings of leadership begin with God as the active agent, the One who has called the church to serve as a fellowship of reconciliation, a body with diverse gifts, an instrument of witness (Paragraph 3).

As “the people of God on the way” (Paragraph 18), the Protestant church recognises two sacraments, that of baptism and communion. Hence any talk of leadership emerges from baptism, for it is baptism that we are initiated into God’s mission and it is through communion that we are sustained in mission. As it says in the Basis of Union, “On the way Christ feeds the Church with Word and Sacraments” (Paragraph 3). No leader emerges apart from the fact that we are all one in Christ Jesus, all of us saying yes to participation in mission through our baptism, all of us in communion strengthened in order to participate “in the mission of Christ in the world” (Paragraph 8).

An expression of our participation in mission includes the experience in which all members have gifts for which there is a “corresponding service” (Paragraph 13). In 1 Corinthians 3 and 4, Paul explains his ministry, using six images – of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent. In these passages, Paul is explaining what it means for him to be sent to serve, and how his theology of baptism and communion finds expression in his “corresponding service.” Given that through baptism all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:27-28), it makes sense when Paul describes a shared leadership: he labours alongside other servants (Apollos in 3:5), other gardeners (3:9), other builders (3:10), other resource managers (Apollos in 4:6), other fools (apostles in 4:9) and other parents (Timothy in 4:17).

This suggests that Paul’s “corresponding service” is in fact shared by others, who alongside Paul also offer a “corresponding service” as servants, gardeners, builders, fools and parents. The result of these shared acts of service in mission is transformation. At Corinth, individuals are transformed and a church is established. When the six images of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent are read against literature describing the existing cultural understandings of sociality and ethics of the world of Corinth what becomes clear is an alternative ethical polis. As the one body in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:27-28) examines itself in communion (1 Cor 11:28), existing cultural understandings of leadership and influence are challenged. Such a transforming body is made possible by a transforming leadership, one which results when the church serves, gardens, builds, resource manages, acts as a fool and parent.

For every image of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent there are practical tools by which the entire community can serve. Thus transforming leadership has nothing to do with individual heroic leaders. Rather, both missiologically and practically, transformation emerges as God’s people participate with the Sending one in acts of service, gardening, building, resource managing, being a fool and a parent.

__________
In sketching this understanding, I am drawing on a range of recent scholarship including missiology, leadership, indigenous Aboriginal theologies, Biblical theologies, pneumatology, Christology, indigenous theology, New Testament scholarship both Pauline and Gospel, Old Testament narratives and post-colonial hermeneutics. Particularly Ben Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians; Eugene Rogers, The Holy Spirit: Classic and Contemporary Readings; Ben Witherington, Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom; Kenneth Bailey, Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15 (Concordia Scholarship Today); Walter Moberly, The Old Testament of the Old Testament: Patriarchal Narratives and Mosaic Yahwism and Denise Champion, Yarta Wandatha.

Posted by steve at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Transforming leadership in Vanuatu: Talua Memorial lectures

I’ve been invited to give the 2017 Talua Memorial lecture, August 14-18, in Vanuatu and address the topic of Transforming leadership. The Presbyterian Church in New Zealand has a long history of relationship with the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu; and Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership has a long history of relationship with Talua College. So it was easy to say yes.

Talua_Ministry_Training_Centre

Until I realised that the Memorial lecture was actually 10 lectures! Gulp. However the topic – leadership – is something I’ve written a book on recently (Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration). And I did some research last year on Christologies in Melanesia, so I had some resource to weave. And Jesus has a lot to say about transforming leadership. So the invitation has provided a good opportunity to turn a book into a one week intensive, and integrate with contextual Melanesian theology.

I’ve had some creative educational fun in the preparation over the last week. I developed an assignment that would allow group work on “what does this mean in Vanuatu?” This included a set of case studies, which I had workshopped by a colleague with many years of experience at Talua. I also had help in the making of a certificate, to encourage assignment participation :)

certificateimage

Posted by steve at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Church in Contemporary NZ: Perspectives and Challenges – Whanganui bound

I’m speaking in Whanganui tomorrow evening (August 9, 7:30 – 9 pm) on the theme of The Church in Contemporary NZ: Perspectives and Challenges. The presenting reason is to met an incoming KCML intern, as part of the processes of induction to the KCML internship process. But it fitted really well with the local churches, who have banded together to present 4 evenings on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It’s a really creative and well-put together mix – of film and speaking and interaction – and I’m thrilled to be part of it.

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On the 9th of August, under the heading – The Church in Contemporary NZ: Perspectives and Challenges – I will begin with what was a radical new technology, the printing press. I will use that to reflect on a forgotten hallmark of the Reformed project (according to Michael Jinkins, The Church Transforming: What’s Next for the Reformed Project?), that of innovation – “the capacity to draw from the experience of ancient Christian communities and to adapt these lessons to new situations (Michael Jinkins, The Church Transforming: What’s Next for the Reformed Project?, 105). I will then tell stories of some of the New Mission Seedling innovation I am seeing in New Zealand, including in a new build, post-earthquake suburb in Christchurch and the dream of a new monastic presence among the working class suburb in Dunedin.

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All 4 evenings of evenings will take place at St James Church, Cnr Boydfield/Helmore Streets, Whanganui East. For more info, contact Mo Morgan 021905552 or Angela Gordon 5614314

Posted by steve at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unassuming, penetrating, pragmatic and humble: Built for change review

builtforchange Here is the 9th review of my book, Built for Change. This one comes from the United States. Since the book was written with a focus on stories of change from New Zealand and Australia, to have such a positive review from a third country is wonderful.

For lay and clergy leaders looking to rediscover relevancy for the North American church, practical hope comes from down under.

Unassuming, penetrating, pragmatic and humble, Steve Taylor has given us a place to start in “doing church differently,” not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of meaning, for ourselves and others. Accessible, fresh and above all honest, Taylor has expressed in appropriate balance the realities of change, innovation, collaboration and learning so necessary to make sense in this world, a sense-making enabled by biblical wisdom woven with insights from his own direct experience.

There is wisdom here–understanding, not “overspending”–not only for congregational and individual renewal, but for an even broader audience too often seduced by the noise of leadership theory. This is pure signal amidst all the noise. This little book holds a voice you can trust if you are trying to make sense of change, especially if you are wise enough to try to make sense in collaboration with others. Thank you Dr. Taylor for sharing your experience, taking the time and care to reflect upon it, and offering it up to us all.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. It is also available on Amazon Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here. Review 7 by Darren Cronshaw is here. Review 8 by Uniting Church Moderator, Sue Ellis, is here.

Posted by steve at 09:13 PM

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Presbytery partnerships

Presbytery partnerships are one of five key directions in the KCML strategic plan.

Presbytery partnerships: KCML wish to establish teaching partnerships with each Presbytery. Each will be individualised, given the unique needs of each Presbytery. They will include shared commitments and timelines around the location of New Mission Seedlings and teaching sites for the National Learning Diploma. This move will help KCML be national, forming intentional training relationships with Presbyteries

In the first half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved connection. As Principal, I was invited to speak at six of the seven Presbyteries. I spoke at Alpine Presbytery and two Otago events in April, Central ministers in May, Northern Council and Kaimai Ministers in June, Pacific Island Synod in July. This gave me an opportunity to introduce myself as the new Principal. I also used this time to test pieces of the KCML strategic plan. In particular, this involved sharing about innovation and mission and then hearing the questions and being part of conversation about how this landed.

In the second half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved explanation. Once the KCML Strategic plan was approved by Council of Assembly in June, I wrote to each Presbytery. I briefly explained the plan and I asked if I could visit their Council to share the plan and to ask how a partnership could be formally adopted.

The aim is clarity with each Presbytery

  • how together – KCML and Presbytery – to identify training needs and shape a five year plan for training
  • how to strategically discern and work together on planting of New Mission Seedlings

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Over the last five months, I have had responses and been able to engage five of the seven Presbytery Councils. My last visit for this 2016 year was this week, when I spent over two hours with Pacific Island Synod. These face to face visits are important step in developing these partnerships. Each Presbytery is unique, and so each visit has been unique. The questions are always different. Different parts of the plan excite different Presbyteries. The pace of developing a partnership will be different for each Presbytery. That is good, because KCML can’t do everything at once. It also means we can run experiments and learn as we go.

Theological Colleges are not ivory towers who (theoretically) know best. Rather, we are shared partners with the church in seeking the mission of God. At the heart of Presbytery partnerships is a desire to practise shared discernment in mission and training.

Posted by steve at 04:31 PM

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Unique mix of biblical models, innovation tools & Australasian case studies

builtforchange Here is a 7th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Dr Darren Cronshaw. There is a longer, 750 word version, being submitted to an academic journal, but the highlight version reads wonderfully.

Built for Change goes beyond rhetoric and explores case studies, theological reflection and reflective practice of how innovation can be collaboratively fostered. As an out-of-the-box thinker, Baptist pastor, and Uniting and now Presbyterian theological educator, Steve Taylor emphasises that innovation at its best is a collaborative team project, facilitated by systematic and careful process. The book is a model of clear writing, careful structure and practical theology from a reflective practitioner. It will be recommended reading or textbook in some units I am writing and I have personally ordered a dozen copies as presents for colleagues in theological education and mission training, so I think I can say with integrity that I count this as highly recommended.

Darren Cronshaw
- Mission Catalyst – Researcher, Baptist Union of Victoria www.buv.com.au
- Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries www.acom.edu.au
- Pastor, AuburnLife Baptist Church www.auburn.org.au
- Adjunct Professor, Swinburne Leadership Institute

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here.

Posted by steve at 06:03 PM

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Do you have high quality research skills, experience in the design of higher education and a passion for educational formation for Christian leadership?

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) is seeking a uniquely gifted person to undertake action research in education design. This will involve undertaking qualitative research among key stakeholders, designing adult education delivery mechanisms and piloting the delivery of education in Christian leadership.

The Research Fellow will deliver a project that helps KCML clarify how to provide postgraduate educational formation for Christian leadership. Specifically to
1. Publish research into re-reforming post-graduate ministry and mission practice in contemporary contexts
2. Design education material that meets both stakeholder needs and higher education accreditation frameworks
3. Develop a strategic plan for education delivery
4. Initiate pilot projects, with stakeholder feedback.

The successful applicant will have experience in Christian education, project management and the use of qualitative methodologies in social sciences. They will have demonstrable skills in theological reflection, the ability to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders and excellent verbal and written skills, including research and writing.

It is desirable that they have experience in post-graduate accreditation in higher education and teaching in online environments.

This is envisaged as a fixed term (22 months), part-time (0.6) position. Start date is February 2017 and is subject to a final confirmation of funding. The successful applicant need not live in Dunedin, provided they can demonstrate how they might build and sustain strong working relationships with the KCML team.

KCML especially welcomes applications that will enable it to meet its commitments to being a bi-cultural and intercultural church.

Applications close 9 am, Monday, 5 now 12 December, 2016 (7 day extension due to GA and Kaikoura earthquake). They must include a CV; a letter of application addressing the essential and desirable criteria and two references.

Enquiries to Rev Dr Steve Taylor
Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
principal@knoxcentre.ac.nz

Posted by steve at 07:22 AM

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Presbytery partnerships

In June, the Council of Assembly of the Presbyterian Church strongly endorsed the KCML Strategic plan. One of the five key directions is Presbytery partnerships.

symbol-1166560-1280x1280

Presbytery partnerships: KCML wish to establish teaching partnerships with each Presbytery. Each will be individualised, given the unique needs of each Presbytery. They will include shared commitments and timelines around the location of New Mission Seedlings and teaching sites for the National Learning Diploma. This move will help KCML be national, forming intentional training relationships with Presbyteries.

To enact this part of the strategic plan is likely to involve three steps

  • Introduction of plan to Presbyteries (of which in New Zealand there are 7: 5 geographic Presbyteries and 2 Synods that in order to be Synods are each a Presbytery)
  • Clarification of the individualised relationship, through a Memorandum of Understanding that might include a 5 year Presbytery training plan and structures by which to innovate around New Mission Seedlings
  • Delivery, with feedback loops

On Saturday I engaged with Northern Presbytery. For 20 minutes I provided some mission framing, for another 20 minutes I shared the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan and for a final 20 minutes I sought feedback – what excites and what concerns.

The feedback was overwhelming positive, with the Moderator noting how much it helped the elders and ministers of Presbytery to know that challenges are being recognised and that alternative ways forward as a church are being enacted.

Saturday’s conversation brings to five (out of 7) such conversations – held either with Presbytery Councils or a full Presbytery – since the Strategic plan was approved just over 5 months ago. That’s encouraging progress.

While there is much work still to be done – in clarification and in delivery – it is great to be out and about like this around the church nationally. It is a privilege to be given this type of access and to see the diverse parts of the church at work.

Posted by steve at 06:35 PM

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

art resourcing ministry: 3 images that shape my practice

I drove six hours yesterday, to Geraldine, to spend time resourcing a Ministers cluster. They meet regularly every few months and had asked me tto engage with them for about 4 hours, either side of lunch. After some back and forth with the organisors, I decided I would offer three art pieces that had been important in shaping my understanding of ministry. I had not done this before. But my sense was that the space created by art, along with the mix of story, would add value to a group of ministers who need themselves some space to reflect.

I suggested a repeated sequence, in which we would engage in the following process.
- silence to appreciate the art
- discussion of what we noticed in the art
- my story of why the art was important and how is shaped my ministry
- discussion together of the implications for ministry

I offered three pieces (one was a pair).

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First, (the top of the photo) an original illustration from Bodge Plants a Seed: A Retelling of the Parable of the Sower, which Simon Smith had gifted to me when I began in ministry at Opawa Baptist. This opened up a rich conversation about leadership as gardening, a set of practices in which we attend to what God has already gifted. (More on this is in my book, Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership).

Second, (the bottom of the photo), some art by Kees de Kort, from Picturing Christian Witness: New Testament Images of Disciples in Mission, 146-8. This opened up conversation about mission that originates with God. It requires partnership, in which we locate ourselves not as initiators and holders of Scripture, but as guests and interpreters.

Third, John Lavery’s Anna Pavlova The Red Scarf paired with a photo of a girl seeking to imitate the dancer. This allowed a even richer conversation about God as the dancer and how we understand formation. It included reflection on the role of gender, to which I offered the followed resources, a compilation of some writing I did during sabbatical in 2012.

Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology), by Nichola Slee, suggests that our notions of faith development can reflect a male bias. Her work emerges from interviews with 30 women, which resulted in some 1500 pages of transcribed interviews. She then read these narratives alongside a number of conversation partners – faith development theory and women’s spirituality. She suggests these women develop through a three part process,
• of alienation
• of awakenings
• of relationality

She then makes four broad applications, to those in formal theological education, to those involved in any educational or pastoral care context in church life, to women’s networks and groupings.

First, to ground practice in women’s experience. She suggests making a priority of more inductive and experiential approaches to education. She also suggesting bringing to greater visibility women’s lives. (A simple check list I used in this regard, when I used to preach regularly, was check my sermon illustrations and quotes to make sure I had gender balance, as many women examples as men).

Second, create relational and conversational spaces, for “women’s spirituality was profoundly relational in nature, rooted in a strong sense of connection to others, to the wider world and to God as the source of relational power.” (Women’s Faith Development, 173) Slee suggests we look at our environments, ways to create circles not rows, and processes by which everyone speaks no less than once and no more than twice.

Third, foregrounding of imagination, given “the remarkable linguistic and metaphoric creativity of women as they seek to give expression to their struggles to achieve authentic selfhood, relationships with others, and connectedness to ultimate reality.” (Women’s Faith Development, 175). She notes historically how much of women’s theology was embedded in poetry, hymnody, craft forms and popular piety. So we need to find ways to weave this into our “reading” and our talking. “Yet educators need to go beyond the use of such artistic resources to the active encouragement of learners to engage in artistry as a way of exploring and discerning truth.” (Women’s Faith DevelopmentWomen’s Faith Development, 178) Slee is aware that these suggestions are not new. But from her experience of (British) theological institutions, there is room for growth.

A second perspective comes from Ann Phillips, The Faith of Girls: Children’s Spirituality and Transition to Adulthood She asks what Lo-ruhamah in Hosea 1, Namaan’s wife’s slave girl in 2 Kings 5, the slave girl in Philippi in Acts 16, Jarius daughter in the Gospels, have in common?

First, they are pre-pubescent girls. Second, they are agents of new theology. God is made more real, more understandable, more present, through these girls. This is so consistent with Jesus, who takes children in his arms and reminds us that keys to God’s Kingdom are found in them.

Phillips notes that most theologies of childhood have been written by men. She interviews 17 young girls, seeking to understand their faith development. Anne argues for a “wombing” theology as an approach to faith development. It protects and so the need for a “home space.” It enables play, in which the one being birthed is free, away from adult control, to work at their identity. It connects. Regarding church, “membership of a cohort was not enough for the girls to feel a sense of belonging. Intergenerational sharing was named as a significant feature in their attachment to the environment … Girls [interviewed] regularly spoke of the impact on their faith of older people … Most participation was initiated by adults.” (The Faith of Girls, 160)

The approach worked really, really well. The mix of visuals, personal story and ministry application provided multiple entry points. The use of eyes brought a stillness into the room and offered a reflective space. Those not used to engaging art found a strengthening of their skills in the simple invitation to look. The discussion wandered broad and wide, with a degree of honesty, challenge and humour. The four hours flew by.

Personally, it was quite moving, to be taken back into my story. I saw some patterns woven in. I also realised how these patterns continue to shape my current practice and vision. It was a contemplative, holy sort of day.

Posted by steve at 11:05 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2016

connecting, looking for partners in mission

I spent today bringing greetings from KCML to three Auckland Presbyterian churches: Taiwanese, Cantonese, English-speaking of Chinese descent. Since I was up in Auckland for meetings on Friday and Saturday, it seemed a great opportunity to stay on for an extra night and connect with parts of the Presbyterian church that perhaps have never been visited by a KCML Principal.

It was also an opportunity to seek partnerships. My hunch is that we as Knox and we as a Presbyterian church might need the cultural agility, entrepreneurial knack and cross-cultural skills that migrant congregations are likely to offer.

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Here is what I said, as I presented to each a gift – an artistic representation of the Knox Centre.

Nau mai, haure mai. Aku rangatira, tena kou

In Maori I greet you and honour your elders.

My name is Steve Taylor. I was born in Papua New Guinea. I’ve been a church planter and church minister here in New Zealand and Principal of a theological College in Australia. I am currently now the Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership.

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership is the theological college of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. The Presbyterian church in New Zealand recognises 4 strands of ordained ministry

  • national ordained ministry
  • local ordained ministry
  • local ministry teams
  • Amorangi Maori ministry

On behalf of the Presbyterian church, Knox Centre train for all these 4 types of ordained ministry. We don’t do this alone. We do this in partnership with Presbyteries and local churches. We also do this in partnership with Te Wananga-a-rangi, the theological college of the Maori Synod of the the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

As part of my greeting I bring a gift. It is a picture of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. It has been painted by a local Dunedin artist, the husband of one of our lecturers.

gift

Knox has been training ministers for 139 years. We began in 1877. So next year we are 140 years old. We have much to thank God for, a rich and long heritage.

As a College, we look backward. We also look forward. We have a vision, a dream, a hope.

First, commitment to train diverse cultures. Knox has never, to my knowledge, trained a Chinese minister. We’ve trained Korean. We’ve trained Pacific Island. We’ve trained Tamil Indian. We’ve trained Maori. We’ve never trained a Chinese minister. So I ask you to pray with us. That God will use Knox to train leaders for all the cultures of New Zealand.

7seedlings

Second, we at Knox Centre have a commitment to plant new mission seedlings. According to the Presbyterian Church Book of Order; to be ordained is to be part of initiating creative trends in the witness of the Church. In order to train for that KCML is looking to plant new mission seedlings, places where creative Church Witness can be initiated.

I would suggest that here in Auckland is a great place to explore creative Church witness. Amid the super diversity of this city – so many opportunities. I offer this gift and I ask you to pray for us.

Pray that God will raise up Chinese to ordained leadership here in New Zealand. And pray that God will bless in the planting of New Mission Seedlings.

Posted by steve at 02:40 PM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Practising hope: gathered and scattered Ministers Resourcing day

As part of Presbyterian General Assembly, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership has been asked to provide a day resourcing ministers. We want to engage the theme of General Assembly – hope for the world. We want to offer thoughtful and theological reflection on ministry practice, empirical research into how churches respond to tragedy as they gather and how we discern how Christ takes form in the world. We want to allow the rich range of voices in the church to be heard. So far, the registration response has been excellent.

Theme – Practising hope: gathered and scattered

9:00 am Welcome, introduction KCML team

9:15 am Plenary: Hope gathered. How do churches respond to hard stuff? How did PCANZ churches worship and pray as they gathered on Sunday, November 15, 2015 in light of major international events? Steve and Lynne Taylor will present findings from their research into 160 churches, to explore how churches respond in gathered worship to hard stuff. What was practiced? How was hope understood? What theologies of God in suffering were at work? What does this say about being church in the world today?

10:00 am Morning Groups: “What’s in your kete?” By “what’s in your kete?” we are asking various ministry practitioners to facilitate discussion both among the group but also by example. We are asking them to bring resources that they use for offering hope in the hard places of human experience. We want the question to also be a group question, allowing the group to bounce off each other and sharing best practice. If you have resources you have found important in nurturing hope in hard places, please bring them to share. Group presenters will include KCML Faculty and local practitioners.

12:00 Lunch

1:00pm Plenary: Christ Plays in 10,000 Places: Introductory Address and Panel. Mission conversations in churches frequently occur as an inside-out job. We speak of ‘reaching out’, or ‘taking the Gospel to’, or even ‘welcoming them in’. It assumes we as the church are the centre and the fixed point from which the action emanates. But what if mission is just as much an outside-in job and God is already in our communities and marketplaces, inviting us to join the action there. What if Christ the living Word is speaking and acting amidst the world for the sake of the world. Can we become discerners of Christ amidst the marketplace and neighbourhood, and in discerning this, how might we hear Christ speaking a word of freshness to our churches?

2.00pm Workshops
1. Developing a culture of discernment in your eldership. Rev Ed Masters (Rotorua District Parish Church)
2. Loving your neighbours and discovering God’s Mission Rev Sun Mi Lee (St Austells Uniting, Auckland)
3. Building the conditions for mission listening and innovation in a Presbytery Rev Darryl Tempero, (Kiwi-Church and Alpine Presbytery Mission Facilitator, Christchurch)
4. Young People detaching from Church: What mission questions does the Pacific experience raise? Rev Fei Taulealeausuami (Former CWM Pacific Secretary & PhD Student) & Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph, (First Church Otago)
5. Listening to our changing rural communities Rev Erin Pendreigh (Otago-Southland Synod Mission Facilitator) & Rev Andrew Harrex (Lawrence, South Otago)
6. Leadership processes for mission listening & innovating Rev Dr Steve Taylor (Principal KCML)
7. The new net goes fishing. Ministry in the water amongst millennials. Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly (Senior Chaplain, Auckland University) & Rev Dr Hyeeun Kim (Counsellor, Auckland University)
8. Discerning and following Christ in Suburb and City. Rev Dr Mark Johnston (KCML Auckland Coordinator)

3.15pm Afternoon Tea and book launch. In this 2016 year KCML Faculty have published a range of resources that offer significant resourcing for ministers. This includes a songbook, multiple creative worship resources and three books. Commissioning prayers will be offered as part of our concluding worship.

Posted by steve at 06:27 PM

Sunday, October 16, 2016

First communion: embodying a call?

Today was my first communion in a local Presbyterian church in New Zealand. I began at KCML a year ago this week. It involved a move from Australia to New Zealand and from the Uniting Church to the Presbyterian church.

I’ve shared communion in other settings within the Presbyterian church over this year, but not at a local church level. It is an interesting, albiet totally anecdotal reflection, on the place of this sacrament in Presbyterian life. I’ve also seen one baptism in a local Presbyterian church during this first year. Again, totally anecdotal, but it would suggest more of an emphasis on Word than Sacrament. And it does invite reflection on the impact on ecclesial formation – on the church and on myself as an individual. But that is for another post.

communion

What was wonderful was to share this first communion with Te Aka Puaho, the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church; to share it at Waimana, in the heart of Tuhoe nation; and to receive it from an Amorangi (Maori) minister in training.

It was a powerful reminder of the breadth of reach of the Presbyterian church in New Zealand; a reminder of the incredible gift that is Te Aka Puaho, reaching to stand in solidarity with communities and people that very few Pakeha will ever be able to engage; and their commitment as a Synod to raising of indigenous leadership.

The photo is worth reflecting on as a “visual” expression of belief, more specifically contextualised belief. The photos behind the pulpit are around the four walls of the church. They are there to express the church as living and breathing; not as a building. It allows reflection on people and events that shape the church. The colours (red, white and black) and patterns are Maori colours and patterns and express the connection with local communities and the people they serve.

door

We arrived early, but that was not a problem. A previous minister had set a policy in place: “The door will always be open.” The church should never be locked, should never be available on during worship.

My personality tends to find significance in events like this. My first local church communion is amongst tangata whenua, as a minority, being served as part of a process of indigenous leadership development. I would like to hope that says something about how God might be made present to me during this season of serving as Principal of KCML and how my time and energy, including my research (for example – Wanangha nai: a post-colonial indigenous atonement theology and Fiction as missiology: an indigenous Christology in Papua New Guinea), might need to be shaped.

Posted by steve at 05:01 PM

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Mission seedlings: How could a church tend a seedling?

Initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness is part of what it means to be a Presbyterian minister, according to the Book of Order.

The ordinand is admitted to a fellowship responsible for the guardianship of the Gospel – a guardianship which must express itself in freshness and adaptability as the Church is led by Christ to do new things. The minister has not only the task of protecting the Church and the Gospel from error, but also, and particularly, the task of initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. (Book of Order, Appendix D-4: Ordination and the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, (1966), (vii))

As a consequence, ministerial training needs to include opportunities, encouragement and training in innovation in mission. KMCL is working toward this aim in the birthing New Mission Seedlings. The aim is to establish in each Presbytery of the PCANZ a New Mission Seedling; seven throughout New Zealand over the next few years.

7seedlings

Each seedling  involves a long term commitment to mission in a local community. They are sites for learning

  • for interns learning to lead in mission
  • for KCML as a learning community being shaped by the challenges of initiating creative trends
  • for churches and Presbyteries in mission, invited to partner in establishing new communities of faith
  • for the national church, given that each seedling is established to address a mission question the church nationally does not yet have an answer too. This will be facilitated by annual National Incubators, that share wisdom and stimulate good practice.

nms-graphicver2

In sharing this vision with a local group from a Presbytery, a minister asked an excellent question: Could we participate? We have folk who have skills? Is there some way they can participate? Can partnerships between NMS and local churches be fostered?

My immediate response was to think about the Presbyterian distinctive of shared decision-making. We look to shared processes of leadership rather than to bishops or charismatic individuals. This instinct should shape our approach to initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. Denominationally, the question of how could a church help a seedling is in fact a deeply Presbyterian question that attends to the richness of our tradition.

A practical response is to note the following:

1 – Presence to ensure solidarity and enhance partnership – from the extreme of move into the area, through choosing to work in the area, joining a club or activity in the area; participating in a local school with reading. There are a range of ways to enter Incarnation, from full relocation, to a range of ways to be alongside.

2 – Gifts – There are a range of ways to participate in initiating creative trends present themselves

  • Finance – people could contribute (food, coffee, events, etc)
  • Service – commit to a team that experiments in ways to serve. This could be on a fortnightly pattern, or in key community events or linked to Christian festivals.
  • Prayer – gathering in the community to listen to God (pray and read Scripture) amid the patterns of the community
  • Specialisation – specific skills might be offered, for example chairing a local board meeting, teach te reo. These involve taking an individual skill and offering it, ideally in ways the express both competency and solidarity.

3. Seasons – this speaks to both length and in timing. You don’t move plants in summer but in winter. So there are seasons in the sending church to discern, that involve the state of the community and vitality of practice. This also applies individually. A person in a demanding season of work has less to give than the season following children having left home.  A season by nature has an ending.  Always invite folk to participate for a season and then to review.

These thoughts could apply to a local church. They could also apply to a Presbytery, given that being presbyterian is about shared mission. Local churches and Presbyteries can be visited, the mission shared and folk invited to participate for a season, in a range of ways as listed above. Will you consider offering yourself for a year, to participate in six prayer walks; or one community festival or a year of listening to children read in a local school?

Each person that participates at the end of their season, faces a choice. To renew their commitment? Or to return to their sending church? Either way, the season of shared mission has exposed them to incarnational and contextual mission. They are richer. They church will be richer. In doing so, we are making another statement.

We are declaring that initiating creative trends is a body practice. It refuses to rely on amazingly gifted people. Instead, together, in partnerships, it finds multiple ways to participate in the mission of God. This is some of the thinking that lies behind New Mission Seedlings at KCML.

Posted by steve at 06:59 PM